-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, April 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged people
who do poorly on simple tests of physical ability may be at
increased risk of early death, according to a new study.
Another study found that light-intensity physical activity every
day may reduce the chance of disability in adults with -- or at
risk of developing -- knee arthritis.
Both studies were published online April 29 in the journal
In the first study, researchers looked at data from more than
5,000 people in Britain who at age 53 underwent tests of their grip
strength, how fast they could stand from sitting in a chair and
their balance while standing.
The participants were followed up to age 66. During that time,
88 died from cancer, 47 from heart disease and 42 from other
causes. Those who did worse on the tests of physical ability at age
53 had a higher risk of dying over the following 13 years,
according to a journal news release.
The researchers also found that people who could not complete
any of the physical ability tests at age 53 were 12 times more
likely to die during the follow-up period than those who completed
all three tests.
The findings suggest that these simple physical ability tests
could be used to identify middle-aged people who are less likely to
achieve a "long and healthy life," concluded Dr. Rachel Cooper at
the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at
University College London, and colleagues.
The second study, by U.S. researchers, included nearly 1,700
people, aged 49 to 83, who had or were at high risk for knee
osteoarthritis. At the start of the study, all of the participants
could do normal daily activities such as dressing, bathing,
preparing meals or grocery shopping.
Over two years of follow-up, those who did light physical
activity were less likely to become disabled due to knee
"Our findings provide encouragement for adults who may not be candidates to increase physical activity intensity due to health limitations. Greater daily physical activity time may reduce the risk of disability, even if the intensity of that additional activity is not increased," the researchers concluded.
A journal editorial accompanying both studies noted that "little
attention has been given to the question of how much activity is
needed to make a difference," wrote Dr. Elizabeth Badley, at the
University of Toronto.
Lack of physical activity in people with knee osteoarthritis
increases their risk of disability and reductions in physical
ability, and "reduced physical capability in turn compromises life
expectancy," she wrote.
The underlying message in both studies is that "even a little
helps -- at least as far as physical activity is concerned," Badley
While the studies tied physical activity and ability in middle
age to future risk of death and arthritis disability, they did not
establish cause-and-effect relationships.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers
physical activity guidelines for everyone.
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